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Many thanks to Michael Lee Johnson, who has posted a new interview with me on Interviews Poets, Writers. Check it out.
Today our son Victor’s housemate and longtime friend Shane Collins has been deployed to Iraq for his second tour. Please keep him and all our other members of the armed forces who are now in harm’s way in your prayers.
President Obama has promised that the war there will be over in August 2010. (read more)
I got this video from Pris, and we’re asking that those of you who stand in agreement post it to your blogs, also.
Heart as Wide as the World by Henri Nouwen
The awareness of being part of the communion of saints makes our hearts as wide as the world. The love with which we love is not just our love; it is the love of Jesus and his saints living in us. When the Spirit of Jesus lives in our hearts, all who have lived their lives in that Spirit live there too. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents; our teachers and their teachers; our pastors and their pastors; our spiritual guides and theirs – all the holy men and women who form that long line of love through history – are part of our hearts, where the Spirit of Jesus chooses to dwell.
The communion of saints is not just a network of connections between people. It is first and foremost the community of our hearts.
Projecting what a dead person would do, if he were alive, is risky business. It is much easier to analyze what is happening now, so that’s what I’ll attempt to do.
King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” was given in August 1963. King was killed in 1968. During those last five years (and please remember King was killed at the age of 39, so his philosophy was only beginning to mature), he explained, modified, expanded, and changed his position. He began to become more inclusive. King realized that poor whites had a problem as big as poor blacks. He realized that the money spent on the Viet Nam War could not be spent at home, fighting poverty. But when King died, he was still (like many men of his generation) a sexist. He was—like it or not—a womanizer, and he considered himself a “sexual sinner.”
Do I think he would have come to have a more modern position concerning women had he lived? Yes. I say this because he was constantly growing and changing. Do I think his marriage would have survived? No. It was easier for Coretta to continue King’s valiant work as his widow rather than his wife.
It is so easy to pluck those phrases from the “I Have a Dream Speech,” (which is why white people do it so often), but it is an injustice to King to stop there. It’s like grabbing the phrase “fret not” from Psalms and trying to convince the world that God is against the playing of guitars. That’s pretty silly, right? Electing a black president is not the culmination of the dream. We must earn the day when we judge by character. Until then, we continue to collect a series of black firsts. Accepting what King stood for from 1963-1968 is not an easy task, which is why so many stop at 1963. If you cannot accept King’s social gospel, why pretend you like him by quoting him out of context? If all you want is to justify not voting for Obama, why look to King? King wanted full citizenship for blacks. He wanted the US to rid itself of poverty through a “redistribution of wealth.” Sound familiar? King wanted the US to stop waging war on other nations. (Don’t take my word for it. Read King.)
It is for the reasons mentioned above that I say, all white people are racists or recovering racists. I, myself, am a recovering racist. I don’t want to tell you what you are. The fact that Obama was elected has proven to many blacks that there more recovering racists than they had thought. Please note: I DID NOT SAY YOU WERE A RACIST, IF YOU DID NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA! I said, voting for Obama was fighting racism, not that not voting for Obama made you a racist. Please. Some folks read that in and got mad. Also note: I am not in charge of your IQ, background, parent’s attitudes, spouse’s attitude, your education, reading comprehension level, or the materials to which you have been exposed, nor do I want to be. I merely try to share what I have learned. (And for me, being a Christian is a given. I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at the age of 18. Everything I say and do stems from my relationship to God through Jesus. If it weren’t for a mystical experience, I’d probably be a racist to this day.) I am also responsible for my own shortcomings.
Meanwhile, back to King. Electing a black president is just one act that can lead us to where King dreamed we could be: Equality. That’s why he identified racism, poverty, and militarism as the triple evils of which we must rid ourselves. King knew they must be fought together. He wrote about that in 1964 in his book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos of Community? We must defeat all three before we begin a society in which we can go back to the optimism of 1963. Interestingly, in his book title, King put chaos first. In the main, until now Americans have chosen chaos flavored with an annual dash of “I Have a Dream” to appease the collective conscience. King is so easy to use in February and the “I Have a Dream” speech so easy to tolerate and even embrace. So why then did Jesse Jackson cry?
Jesse Jackson cried because he had lived to see “President Barack Obama standing there looking so majestic. . . . [And on the other hand, which is to say, with Obama] the martyrs and murdered whose blood made last night possible, [and because he] could not help think that this was their night.” “And if I had one wish,” he explained, “If Medgar [Evers], or if Dr. King could have just been there for a second in time, [that] would have made my heart rejoice. And so it was kind of duo-fold — his [Obama’s] ascension into leadership and the price that was paid to get him there.” (see more) Jackson, who was there in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel when King was martyred, cried because Obama is the personification of what is possible.
Jackson cried because the election of Obama gave wings to hope, because we can change—yes, we can!—because we can “overcome,” because it is clear now that we are overcoming. He cried because Obama rode on the shoulders of those who marched and were beaten and sacrificed. . . . because he knows that Obama, a black man, understands “I am, because we are.” We are in this world together.
Oh, and by the way, in his final months, King did see himself as “messianic.” So what?
“Don’t believe for a second this election is over. Don’t think for a minute that power concedes anything. It’s gonna get nasty, I’m sure, in the next four days,” Obama told a crowd in Columbia, Missouri, on Thursday night.
“They will throw everything at us like they’ve been doing, and we’re gonna have to work like our future depends on it in this last week. You know what? Because it does, and every single young person here tonight — I’ve gotta have every single one of you voting, and you’ve gotta grab five more, all of you, have gotta vote,” he said.
There’s no giving up. You will be hearing from those who support Obama in the days prior to and including Tuesday.
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, any time blacks got too ambitious and made the establishment (old white men) nervous, the old white men cried “socialist” or “communist.” What they meant was, I’m losing my privileged status. Martin Luther King Jr. was called a “communist” many times. This charge was investigated by the FBI and proven untrue.
Have none of you read King’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? In 1964, King explained that while white people were satisfied with “progress,” blacks were seeking “equality.” The marches changed the laws, and whites were okay with that. But King said the fight for “equality” would not be won so easily. White people would resist because “equality” would cost more than they were willing to pay; it would cost them their status and their wealth. It might also mean costs for their children. So why are you shocked now that a black man is running for POTUS that he wants to “share the wealth”?
This election is more about race than most people know. It is not about “socialism” or about “communism”; it”s about economic equality for blacks and other poor people (for King identified racism, poverty, and militarism as the “triple evils” that must be fought together). White people know that “equality” will require a loss of “their money,” and they won’t have that privilege and power, so they scream “socialist,” because they don’t want to see themselves as racists.
When Obama has said, “power concedes nothing,” he is quoting Frederick Douglass. Obama knows his history. Do you? Black history is American history. Has America given equal power (and money) to her black citizens? Should She?
If you believe in equality, vote for Obama. If you don’t think there’s a black America and a white America, if you don’t think there’s a rich America and a poor America, if you don’t think there’s an educated America and an uneducated America, You just think, there’s the United States of America, vote for Obama. If you think these divisions exist but shouldn’t, vote for Obama. It’s time for a change.
If you like white privilege and the status quo (and more of the same), vote otherwise. If you enjoy pretending it’s okay to have poor people in a rich nation and if you want to blame that on someone who hasn’t had the capital (only they call it “money”) to start a business or get an education, if you enjoy calling such people “lazy” because that means you aren’t, then vote otherwise. In this country, you can vote as you will and should be able to do so. But don’t be so foolish as to pretend this isn’t about white greed and racism. Don’t look the other way and pretend God likes you better.